Three Keys to The Seven Steps that Reveal The Five Secrets of Success

(vs. the life of God in me)

I recently feel a need for action, practically (selling our house, helping a ministry I support, promoting my book) and humanly (a friend in divorce proceedings and other friends with health or financial woes). A season of doing has descended on me.

Keys Steps Secrets of Success

But where should I best invest myself?

There is no shortage of advice. Recently, resources I used to like for their insights have transformed themselves into Giant-Task-Lists. Books, blogs, and conversations bombard me with action-items, strategies, and plans:

  • Last May, an author sent me 26 emails (twenty-six!!) urging me to sign up for his “Three Principles for Successfully Building a Tribe.”
  • A friend told me of his Four-Step action plan to make a church more mission minded.
  • A house-stager made a Two-Page list of exactly what to do to make our house “Pop.”
  • And in one week, a blogger I used to like offered: (a) Six Steps to Becoming Happy, (b) Five Keys for Achievement, (c) Seven Steps to Getting Unstuck, and (d) Eight Secrets to Escape Exhaustion. (My escape from exhaustion began when I quit reading his blog).

Despite the verbal bombardment of tips and techniques for doing, God has also been speaking in a quieter voice, with a single thought that seems more invitational than edict. It’s this:

The Life of God begins to work in me at the moment of my inability.

What Does It Mean?

I have a set of natural skills on which I rely: I can balance a checkbook, understand technology, and talk comfortably with strangers. Self-Help material expanded my skill set to include scuba diving and writing a weekly blog. (And right now I’m studying Shoe-Tying for Dummies.)

But these same skills also create in me spiritual confusion. Because when I’m relying on them, I don’t think much about God. Like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, my natural abilities act agnostically: they look at the world without a resurrection.

The Apostle Peter was naturally assertive, but his kingdom service proved sterile until his natural boldness died, was buried, and was reborn into supernatural boldness.

Worse yet, our innate expertise naturally creates discord. In one of Peter’s infamous blunders, he exclaims, “Those other disciples may all desert you, but I never will!” (I imagine the Disciple John thinking, “What am I? Benedict Arnold?”) And the Apostle Paul’s inborn zeal led him to persecute, imprison, and kill.

How many times have you witnessed an inherently disciplined person disparage a naturally born, but disorderly, artist? (“Why can’t you just be more like me?”)

It is only through inner spiritual resurrection that the life of God begins to work in us.

Good, Better, and Best

In spiritual matters, that which is good is the greatest enemy of that which is best. Our weaknesses look to God, but our inborn competencies live perfectly happy without him.

Let’s avoid the agnostic divisiveness that comes from resting in innate skills instead of resurrected boldness. It’s not what we do that counts, not nearly as much as what God does through us. All it takes is the funeral of our trust in ourselves.

So what do I hear God calling me to do? Instead of falling prey to more internet click-bait of Three Keys, Seven Steps, or Five Secrets, I sense God calling me to this One Invitation:

The Life of God begins to work in me at the moment of my inability.



You’ve probably heard of my new book by now, but just in case you need a reminder: God wants us to hear his voice; he wants a conversational relationship with us all. Please consider buying my new book, Hearing God in Conversation.

It’s written for both believers and non-believers. Give one to a friend.

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What do YOU think?

8 thoughts on “Three Keys to The Seven Steps that Reveal The Five Secrets of Success

  1. Thank you for this encouraging reminder. I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t count the number of times that this: “How many times have you witnessed an inherently disciplined person disparage a naturally born, but disorderly, artist? (“Why can’t you just be more like me?”)” has been my experience! Also, I just finished reading your wonderful book, Hearing God in Conversation, and will recommend it highly to others! May God’s favor rest on you and yours! (Ps. 90:17)

    • Hi Jeanine,

      Thanks for your great comment and thanks for your encouragement about Hearing God in Conversation!

      (Alas, why do we always satisfy ourselves with “doing” instead of “being” with God? I feel it’s a lesson God teaches me, then reteaches me, and then has to point it out yet again.)


  2. An example of uncanny timing. If I’d read it yesterday, it wouldn’t have had the impact it had today. Exactly what God said to me, just two hours ago…addressing a lifetime of doing that force of will has proven completely powerless to turn off. Inability, indeed. Thanks, Sam.

    • Hi Martha,

      How many times in our lives has God appeared “at the right time”? For me, it’s kind of amazing. I wish I’d kept a journal.

      Actually, even this blog was the result of several moments of God “speaking” through a circumstance or a chance overhearing a comment.

      All of which reveals: it’s HIS timing and my inability that are a match made in heaven!


  3. Well, Sam, once again you have capsulized something that seems to be imbedded in the human psyche – that we drive further from hearing God if we are walking in our own competencies. I remember a mutual friend of ours giving us a spur to put on our keychains to remind us to be spurred to not “do” God but rather to rest and be in God!!! With this blog you have again spurred me to get out of myself and my skills and abilities and in that “be” with Him!

    • Hi Richard,

      The “being” over “doing” is a message that God keeps speaking to me about.

      Honestly, I bet he will as long as I live. And just hearing his voice makes it all worthwhile.